Fayetteville retailer Houndstooth Clothing Co. celebrates 30 years

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,762 views 

Houndstooth Clothing Co. at 29 N. Block Ave. in downtown Fayetteville.

Fayetteville retailer Houndstooth Clothing Co., one of Arkansas’ most successful businesses, celebrates 30 years in 2022.

Owner and founder Michael Baker was 25 when he opened the store on Block Avenue. He said the company finished 1992 with $30,000 in sales but is now a multimillion-dollar business with more than 50 employees, five retail locations in Arkansas and an online store.

A Springdale native, Baker earned an architecture degree from the University of Arkansas, but the entrepreneurial bug took hold before that career took off. He took on T-shirt design as a freelance gig and never looked back.

“I fell in love with the screen-printing process and never looked back,” Baker said. “I found out early on that this was my calling, and piece by piece, year by year, the brand began to carve a niche. Now 30 years later, I still wake up every day grateful to be a traveler on this road.”

Houndstooth sells T-shirts, hats, sweats and other custom products. Design themes include outdoor lifestyle and a unique line of licensed Arkansas Razorback merchandise. Last year, the company printed more than 50,000 shirts, and it’s on pace to have the most profitable consecutive years in its history.

Baker estimates he’d employed more than 1,000 people in 30 years, many of them retail store workers. He singled out a handful of workers who’ve been with the business for several years: Justin Brasher (production manager) with 15 years and Kristin Loman (creative director) with 10 years. Anna Morrison, the chief operating officer, and custom sales manager Mellisa Hawes are in their fifth year with the company.

Michael Baker

In 2007, Houndstooth moved its headquarters — with administration, design, custom sales, warehouse, and production services — to 632 E. 15th St. in Fayetteville. They’ve had three major screen print production renovations since and a significant office renovation in 2018. Baker said the reinvestments in the production end of the business focused on acquiring the best equipment so they could produce the best product.

In addition to designing T-shirts for retail and merchandise stores, Baker remains heavily involved in the retail side of the business. His team also relies on him for inventory management and problem-solving.

“The challenge of operating a small business is a 24/7 proposition. Sometimes difficult, sometimes exhilarating, but never boring,” Baker said. “In the end, the people make or break a company. We don’t exist without our customers and employees, simple as that.”